Monday, August 6, 2012

ICON A5 Amphibian Aircraft

The ICON A5 is an American amphibious light-sport aircraft being developed by ICON Aircraft. A concept aircraft was flown in 2008 but production has not started. The A5 is a high-wing flying boat-type amphibious monoplane with a carbon fiber airframe and retractable undercarriage. It seats two people in an enclosed cockpit and is powered by a single 100 hp (75 kW) Rotax 912 iS engine driving a three-bladed pusher propeller. Dornier-style sponsons provide hydrodynamic stability, housing the retracted main landing gear, and act as a step for crew and passenger. The wings can be folded aft for ground transport and storage. Equipment includes an angle of attack indicator, an unusual feature in general aviation aircraft. An airframe ballistic parachute is optional.

A prototype was constructed in 2007-2008 and made its first flight in July 2008. In January 2009 the company announced completion of the first phase (27 flights) of a three-phase testing program, including water-handling. In February 2009, the prototype entered the second-phase testing to refine aerodynamic and handling qualities.

In June 2011 the company announced that it had procured an additional US$25 million investment, which was "needed to allow the company to complete engineering development work and enter production - possibly as early as next year [2012]." An updated "spin-resistant" wing began flight testing in July 2011, and finished in February 2012. The design meets FAR Part 23 type certified requirements by employing a cuffed wing with multiple proprietary airfoils which change along the wing's span.

In August 2011, the company stated that it had sold positions for 694 A5s, of which 400 were sold at AirVenture 2009 and 143 were received at the 2011 show. A promotion in conjunction with EAA Young Eagles raised over US$28,000 for Young Eagles. Lotus Engineering USA replaced BMW DesignworksUSA in 2012 to develop an "automotive style" aircraft interior and assist with development of lightweight component manufacturing. In July 2012 the company applied for an Federal Aviation Administration LSA rule exemption to raise the weight of the A5 above the maximum weight for amphibian LSAs, citing that the required structure to make the aircraft spin resistant necessitated a gross weight of 1,680 lb (762 kg).

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